Maintaining an Ageing Network
The Bridgewater Canal Trust was formed following a breach of the canal at Dunham Massey in 1971.
A report was received from the Altringham police concerning a leak from the Bridgewater Canal near the Bollin Aqueduct. The canal crosses over the River Bollin on an embankment with the Canal water level some thirty four feet above river level. The Canal gushing into the river below had soon washed out a gorge in the embankment ninety feet wide.
Stop logs were positioned across the Canal on either side of the breach to stem the loss of water from the Canal. In Manchester some 10 miles away water levels had fallen 14 inches.
The cost of repairing the breach was £250,000 and under the transport act 1968 the Manchester Ship Canal Company could have applied to close the Canal, or alternatively have sought authority to pipe water across the breach. However, following discussions with Cheshire County Council and other interested parties it was decided that a working party would be formed to explore the possible formation of a Trust which might bear a fair share of the cost of maintaining the Canal. In the light of the possible formation of a trust the breach was repaired and the Canal was finally reopened to navigation in September 1973.
County and riparian local authorities entered into the trust deed on the 5th November 1975. The members of the trust are: Cheshire County Council, Halton Borough Council, Warrington Borough Council, Macclesfield Borough Council, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, Wigan Council, and the Manchester Ship Canal Company.
These authorities could obviously have made payment direct to the Manchester Ship Canal Company but it was felt that a Trust would offer them a more direct involvement in the spending of such money and an overview of these aspects.
The trust meet twice a year and formulate the long and short term policies for the amenity use of the Bridgewater Canal. All income generated by the Bridgewater Canal from pleasure craft, fishing, drainage and sales of water for cooling purposes etc is used to maintain and improve the Canal and its environment.